Tanzania is one of the most fascinating places to visit. It is a travel destination, blessed with real beauty and the ability to offer something for everyone. Mt. Kilimanjaro, with its 5895 metre altitude is the highest mountain in Africa. The Serengeti National Park with its seemingly endless plains, is one of the best wildlife resorts in the world, and then there is the Ngorongoro Crater with its unbelievable density of animals.

 

Each year around the same time, the circular great wildebeest migration begins in the Ngorongoro area of the southern Serengeti of Tanzania. This migration is a natural phenomenon determined by the availability of grazing. It lasts approximately from January to March, when the calving season begins – a time when there is plenty of rain-ripened grass available for the 750,000 zebra that precede 1.2 million wildebeest and the following hundreds of thousands of other plains game. During February the wildebeest spend their time on the short grass plains of the south eastern part of the ecosystem, grazing and giving birth to approximately 500,000 calves within a 2 to 3-week period: a remarkably synchronised event. Few calves are born ahead of time and of these, hardly any will survive.


 

THE BIG FIVE GAME

In Africa, five animals are known simply as “The Big Five”. These are: the majestic lion, the african elephant, the cape buffalo, the leopard, and the rhinoceros. The term big five game (sometimes capitalized or quoted as “Big Five”) was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot. This term has subsequently been adopted by safari tour operators for marketing purposes and is now used universally to refer to these animals. Members of the “Big Five” were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, rather than their size.

 

The African Elephant:

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African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is a very large herbivore having thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and large, fan-shaped ears. There are two distinct species of African elephant: African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana). The elephants are difficult because despite their large size, they are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than the other species.

 
 

 

African or Cape Buffalo:

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The African or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large horned bovid. Buffalo are sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal, although the same claim is also made of hippos and crocodiles. It is considered the most dangerous of the big five, reportedly causing the most hunter deaths, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.

 

 

 

Black Rhinoceros:

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Listed as Critically Endangered, the population of the Black Rhino (Rhinoceros bicornis linnaeus) has declined by an estimated 97.6% since 1960 with numbers bottoming out at 2,410 in 1995, mainly as a result of poaching. Since then, numbers have been steadily increasing at a continental level with numbers doubling to 4,880 by the end of 2010. Current numbers are however still 90% lower than three generations ago.

 

 

 

 

The Lion:

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The lion (Panthera leo) is a large carnivorous feline of Africa and northwest India, having a short, tawny coat, a tufted tail, and in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders. Lions are desirable to hunters because of the very real danger involved. A lion may attack without provocation, and is considered by many to be the best of the big five.

 

 

 

The Leopard:

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The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a large, carnivorous feline having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like markings or black fur. Of the big five, it is most difficult to acquire hunting licenses for leopards. The leopard is sometimes considered the most difficult of the big five to hunt because of their nocturnal and secretive nature. They are wary of humans and will take flight in the face of danger. The leopard is solitary by nature, and is most active between sunset and sunrise, although it may hunt during the day in some areas.